28353 - History of Christianity (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Davide Dainese

  • Credits 6

  • SSD M-STO/07

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Course Timetable from Oct 01, 2018 to Nov 09, 2018

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The main purpose of this class is to let students get familiar with sources interpretation processes and with the history of christianity in a diachronical perspective. Students will understand the role played by christianity in the cultural history and its position among other religions.

Course contents


The course aims to examine specific texts and problems of Early Christianity that were crucial during the intersection of the 4thand 5thcenturies. Students will study how these elements ushered in the season of the Councils and the way in which early theologians were utilized in later ages. Specifically, the course will focus on Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea, key authors in the process of the enculturation of Greek philosophy and in the development of the Christian theology. For educational purposes, the course will also examine the use of these Church Fathers following the Council of Trent.

The following topics will be dealt with during the course:

- the historical-social context of Alexandria in the 2nd- 3rdcenturies;

- Gnosticism and Hellenistic Judaism;

- the philosophy and theology of Clement of Alexandria: Protrepticus, Paedagogus [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paedagogus], Stromata andQuis Dives Salvetur;

- the historical and theological context of Christianity in the East during the 4th century;

- Eusebius of Caesarea and the Church in the age of Constantine;

- the reception of the Church Fathers in the Modern Age: some case studies.


Syllabus for attending students

Attending students must study the texts indicated below.


Quis dives salvetur: Quale ricco si salverà, edited by Bianco M. G., “Collana Testi Patristici” 148, Rome 1999 [Quis dives salvetur: Quel riche sera sauvé?, Descortieux P. - Nardi C., «Sources Chrétiennes» 537, Cerf, Paris 2011].

Eusebio di Cesarea, Vita di Costantino, edited by L. Franco, Milano 2010(2).

Secondary literature:

Prinzivalli E. (editor), Storia del Cristianesimo. I. L'età antica (secoli I-VII), Rome 2015, chapters 1-4 (essay by: Enrico Norelli, Claudio Gianotto, Emanuela Prinzivalli-Andrés Sáez);

Rizzi M., Introduzione, in Clemente di Alessandria. Stromati. Note di vera filosofia, edited by Pini G. - Rizzi M., Milan 2006, pp. VII-LXXXI;

Rizzi M., Il luogo della mistica in Clemente Alessandrino, in L'anti-Babele. Sulla mistica degli antichi e dei moderni, edited by I. Adinolfi, G. Gaeta, A. Lavagetto, Il melangolo, Genova 2017, pp. 117-128;

Dainese D., La Vita e le Laudes Constantini. Presentazione e analisi di testi problematici, in: Costantino 1, Rome 2013, pp. 91-115.

Syllabus for non-attending students

Non-attending students must additionally study the following:

Dainese D., Passibilità divina. La dottrina dell'anima in Clemente Alessandrino, Città Nuova, Rome 2012.

Dainese D., La femminilità del Padre. Note a margine di Q.d.s. 36-37, in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum, in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 56 (2013), pp. 40-50;

Dainese D., Le vestigia di una dottrina dell'anima in Clemente Alessandrino. Nota a margine di due incisi sul linguaggio di animali e angeli, in Adamantius20 (2014), pp. 306-321.

Dainese D., L'uso di alcuni padri della chiesa nell'età della controriforma: contemplazione, meditazione e costruzione dell'ideale del vescovo in Federico Borromeo, in L'anti-Babele. Sulla mistica degli antichi e dei moderni, edited by I. Adinolfi, G. Gaeta, A. Lavagetto, Il melangolo, Genova 2017, pp. 281-318.

For students who have not previously studied this discipline, the study of the following manual is highly recommended:

Potestà G.L. - Vian G., Storia del Cristianesimo, Il Mulino, Bologna 2014.

Teaching methods

Lecture; historical-critical analysis of primary sources. Attendance is not necessary, but attendance will be helpful in assimilating the content that will later be the subject of examination (written or oral, cf. “assessment methods” section).

Assessment methods

Students will have two exam possibilities: either the classic oral exam or an essay of 20 pages written in Italian.

The oral examination will be based on the reading/comments of the sources and on the critical literature and cannot be divided into two successive times. Assessment will be carried out on both the capacity to read ancient texts (also in Italian translation) and specific knowledge of the history of Christianity. Students will be called upon to prove their mastery of specific vocabulary and the knowledge of diachronic data (dates and historical events). The following are examples of potential questions (to be understood as merely a general allusion to a much broader spectrum of questions): “Read and comment upon Strom.V 6”, “Who was Federico Borromeo?”, “What are the main features of the mystical theology in Early Christianity?”

In terms of the essay, students who opt for this solution must consider that it involves a 20-page paper that must be written in Italian. It must regard one of the issues of the course or a historiographic problem raised during the lessons. In this case, a more specific bibliography will be indicated.

Assessment scale:

Excellent (with possibility attribution of honors in the case of originality): the attainment of an organic vision of the issues presented during the lessons and their critical use that demonstrates a mastery of content and technical vocabulary.

Average: Mnemonic knowledge and only partially accurate use of technical vocabulary.

Sufficient: Minimal knowledge of the issues (dates and names), without serious errors.

Insufficient: absence of minimum requirements of ‘sufficient’ assessment.

Teaching tools

Multimedia materials (iconographic sources) and lesson notes

Office hours

See the website of Davide Dainese